Family, Parenting

Happy Birthday Sara

Twenty-four years ago I left the hospital with a new beautiful baby girl.

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Our doctor refused to tell us whether we were having a boy or a girl because he wanted it to be a surprise.

But, I knew before I entered the hospital that I would have a girl and that her name would be Sara without an h.

She’d visited me in a dream about four years before she was born.

I knew she would be a wise, strong-willed, bright-eyed girl with striking blonde hair and I knew we would turn out to be great friends. I also knew that she would be smart and not afraid to speak her mind.

All of that turned out to be true.

I had no idea then though how she would change my life.

After three months of trying to figure out how to care for a new baby and how to survive colic,  I went back to work on Capitol Hill because that’s what liberated women of the 1990s did after they had babies.

Or so I thought.

Is it terrible to confess I looked forward to going back to work because I knew how to handle a job better than how to handle a newborn?

Then, as I wrote in a blog a few years ago, everything changed one night in January of 1991 when we saw the Gulf War erupt on national television.

Calls from news reporters quickly jammed my phone line.

“What is the senator’s reaction?  Are you going to have a press conference? When can we get an interview? Do you have a statement?”

I immediately called the senator and we started planning our response.

Right then, my husband came into the room carrying our six-month-old Sara, who had been with our nanny all day.

Sara giggled with delight when she saw me and threw her soft little arms around my neck.

I covered the phone, and pushed her away and said, “Not now Doug! This is important!”

I looked at Sara’s disappointed face, and my heart sank.

“What am I doing?” I thought. “Not even a war is more important to me than my child.”

Still, I had to go back to work. I left home, drove back to Capitol Hill.

I spent the night answering phone calls, sending out news releases, and organizing a press conference.

I arrived home to a dark house, climbed the stairs to Sara’s nursery and looked at her sleeping soundly in her crib holding on to her Raggedy Ann doll.

I kissed her soft cheek, brushed back her bright blonde hair, and silently apologized for pushing her away.

Standing there looking at her in the late hours of the night, I knew I had to quit.

My job was not compatible with my family priorities.

I loved my job.  I loved how it made me feel – competent, in control, and fulfilled.

I wanted to be like my friends who I thought “had it all.”

They had successful careers and happy families.

But, I knew that wasn’t going to work for me, at least not with the type of job I had then.

So, I eventually quit.

I didn’t adjust easily to my new role as a stay-at-home mother. My ego definitely suffered.

It took time to find a new rhythm and to essentially repurpose my life and myself.

Now, here I am alone at this computer in my empty house over 20 years later, looking back on the day Sara came into my life.

Did I do the right thing by quitting?

Did I lose an unrecoverable part of myself in all those years?

In the end, those seemingly ponderous questions are really just perfunctory because I know the answers without even thinking about them.

c96bd84a041d0309f81a18aecf26bb6aI did the right thing.

I used to think I did it for Sara, that I quit working because it would be best for her (and eventually for Annie) if I stayed home.

Now I know the truth.

 

They would have been fine with a nanny or in after school day care.

In fact, Annie begged me to go back to work so that she could go to after-school care with her friends.

In the end, the choice wasn’t really about what was best for them.

I knew I’d be a better mother and wife if I didn’t have a demanding career competing for my time and attention.

If I had to go back and start over, I’d do the same thing all over again.

If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have settled into it with more grace and less envy of friends who had fulfilling, highly successful careers and managed to be amazing, engaged mothers.

I’d tell myself every day that it would be worth it.

I’d remind myself that in 24 years, when Sara is off working and cutting her own remarkable path in life, I’d have no regrets.

sara

I thought I was letting go of so much all those years ago when I become a mother, quit my job, and started a new kind of life, but when I look back I realize the opposite is true.

I didn’t lose anything.

I gained everything.

Happy Birthday Sara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Parenting, Uncategorized

Scrapbooking — One thing I did right

Like everybody, I spend too much time worrying about what I do wrong or what I don’t do well enough.

For today, I’m going to focus on a few things I’ve done right.

One of those things  was creating scrapbooks of our family life.

I may not have been the craftiest, most artistic scrapbooker in the universe, but I preserved my kids’ childhoods and my own memories in archival quality books.

My favorite pages are the ones with close-up photos  — the ones that capture a mood, a moment, a place, a personality. I love the “photo shoot” of Sara when she wore her blue and white checked, pleated skirt for several days in a row. (She’s always been a skirt girl.) She posed for a photo in nearly every room in the house.IMG_2275

I love the photos of Annie in all her “roles,” like when she set up her art easel on the deck, plopped on her beret and spoke French to me while she painted. Or when she packed her Bitty Baby suitcase, her backpack and her doll on a little vacation in the backyard.IMG_2276

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about scrapbooking:

  1. Focus on the photos themselves, not on the embellishments and cute factor of each page.
  2. Journal! Details can quickly be forgotten.
  3. Go simple. Trends come and go and all the stickers, die-cuts, paper-layering, etc. will fade into the background later because all you want is to see the faces and places you love.
  4. Don’t scrapbook the same kinds of events over and over. I have a million soccer and cheerleading pictures. After awhile, they all look the same.
  5. You only need the best of the prom, dance, sports, party pictures. Keep all the digital photos you want on your computer or storage device, but don’t put them all in a scrapbook. It will overwhelm you and become monotonous in your books.
  6. Perhaps the best advice is to keep duplicates of the close-ups. I can’t tell you how many times I needed photos for school projects, award ceremonies, graduation timelines, and now, for a montage of childhood pictures for a wedding luncheon.  Keep a folder of representative photos over the years so that you don’t have to ply them out of scrapbooks and damage them in the process. (If I’d kept extra copies, my photos in this blog would look better too!)

One final thought…When I was diagnosed with cancer, I stopped making scrapbooks. Partly because I had no energy, and partly because Facebook had become a photo repository, but largely because I didn’t want to see photos of my puffy face, bloated body, bald head, and vacant eyes. But, as soon as that was behind me, I wished I had photographed the entire journey. It’s a critical part of my life history. I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job of collecting photos of myself and my family as we struggled through it.

 

In the end, we are creating the books of our lives as we live them. All the important events — including some of the ones we would like to forget — should be included to show the ups and downs of the journey.

Learn from me.

If you haven’t started family scrapbooks, do it — in some form. If you have quit, like me, consider how to pick it up again. I signed up for a scrapbooking evening with some friends to help motivate me. I won’t worry about being artistic and clever this time. I will only try to get the photos that tell our stories.

I’ve always kept Journals too. Some are more consistent than others. Lately, there are too many gaps in time, and I want to work on that.

Journals are important too, but the visual gift of a photo from another time is priceless in helping savor the experiences of our lives.

I read this quote that sums it up best: “My grandmother made me a scrapbook because I was once too young to remember; I am making scrapbooks for my family because one day I may be too old to remember.”

Family, Parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized

We said yes!

As many of you know, my daughter Annie spent part of the summer in Africa.

On her way home!
On her way home!

She came home on a Thursday. Her boyfriend, Josh, flew here Friday and stayed at her friend’s house.

(Thank you SKN!)

Then, Saturday morning, he surprised her by proposing at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.

First glance at him
First glance at him

If I’d had any doubts about this marriage idea before, they were quickly washed away when I saw the joy in Annie’s face when she spun around to see him standing behind her with a bouquet of sunflowers.

Notice I wrote that “if” I’d had any doubts. That is different from I “had” doubts.

I’ve been thinking about this proposal for a while now as we plotted and schemed about the best way to pull it off.

yes

As Annie became closer to this boy, friends would ask, “Are you okay with this?”

What do you say to that question?

I said, “I trust Annie,” which is true. She doesn’t make important decisions lightly. Ever.

But, what does it take for a mother to really be “okay” with her 20-year-old daughter getting married?

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Since I’ve known about this pending engagement, I’ve felt like Steve Martin in the movie, “Father of the Bride” when he looks at his daughter after she announces she’s getting married, and he see’s a six-year-old telling an engagement story. (Similar to how I felt when she said she was going to Africa!)

Cover of "Father of the Bride (15th Anniv...
Cover via Amazon

http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi135569689/

In the abstract, I’d imagined me scrutinizing every facet of the boy’s life, character, family, and personality.

I know it’s cliché but, every parent wonders if anybody will ever be good enough for their child.

I mean, we’re talking about my Annie here, my baby girl, born with all that wild hair all over her head, the one who was so cute the doctor kept dropping by my hospital room just to hold her and play with her hair. In fact, she said, she’d never seen a cuter baby. (I had a different doctor when Sara was born or she would have said Annie was as cute. A mother always has to cover her bases, you know.)

Dr. T. thought Annie looked like she’d stopped at a heavenly hair salon for some highlights before coming to earth.

Does this boy who wants to marry her know what she means to me?

Does he know that when she was in pre-school and sang, “You are my Sunshine,” that my heart melted like a popsicle in the hot sun?

Does he know that song became “our song?” Does he know that we wrote love notes to each other all our lives and ended with, “Always remember,  you are my sunshine?”

That girl’s happiness means more to me than words can ever describe.

So, again, how does a mother get “okay” with her daughter getting married?

It’s like putting my heart and hers in the palm of a stranger’s hand and saying, “Be careful with it,” and then praying like crazy he knows how much I mean it.

Before Annie left for Africa she said Josh wanted to talk to Doug to ask his permission.

“In our family, he needs to ask the mother too,” I said.

I knew Doug would be too much of a soft touch. If anyone was going to do the scrutinizing and deep, investigative reporting, it would have to be me.

I had my opportunity for this big talk a few weeks ago when Josh and I went to lunch.

A weird thing happened at that lunch.

Even though I was armed with questions, and had ignited my full-on mother radar , a softness took over me, and my goal became to see Josh as Annie saw him.

Instead of wanting to grill him, I wanted to love him. I wanted to love and appreciate the man Annie knows and loves.

And, guess what?

It was easy.

I received a beautiful gift and sensed the humble, sweet spirit of a young man who truly adores my baby girl.

So, when she said “Yes” to him at Eastern market, so did I.

yes 3

I’m okay with this.

I’m okay with him.

I’m more than okay. I’m excited because I can see why he chose her; and why she chose him.

And, this mother is quite okay.

But, Josh, always remember, she was my sunshine first…

You Are My Sunshine
You Are My Sunshine (Photo credit: Enokson)
Family, Parenting

How to Motivate Kids

A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor asked me to write a blog about how to motivate kids to get good grades.

Report Card
Report Card (Photo credit: AJC1)

She asked me how I motivated my kids.

I had to think about it for a minute to remember, then I squirmed a little.

“Money,” I said.

I honestly don’t know whether our offers of cash motivated them, but we tried it.

Our plan was to push them a little harder to get As. So we paid a premium for As, less for Bs and Zippo for grades below a B.

I’m afraid our system turned out to be about as bad as our allowance plans. They started out strong and waned over time.

This happened to the Tooth Fairy too. She was a flibbertigibbet of a fairy really. I think she didn’t know what to do with all those teeth she collected so sometimes she forgot to do her job.

Cover of "Dear Tooth Fairy (All Aboard Re...
Cover of Dear Tooth Fairy (All Aboard Reading)

One morning we found a note on Annie’s pillow that said, “Dear Tooth Fairy, you should be fired! You forgot to do your job.”

The forgetful fairy quickly flitted into our house the next night and doubled the prize for the little tooth resting under Annie’s pillow.

But, back to my neighbor’s question about how to motivate her kids to get good grades.

Her problem is really not motivating them to get good grades, it’s encouraging them to get the best grades they can. She believes her oldest son is capable of getting straight As. He’s a smart, talented student with outstanding athletic abilities. She’s sees scholarships in his future and believes he should do everything he can to snag the best ones out there.

I remember asking friends and neighbors the same question about incentives when my kids entered high school. Most people told me they rewarded their children with money, phones, video games or promised to pay their car insurance or give them driving privileges. One woman told me if her children got straight As all through high school, she promised to buy them a car.

We didn’t go that far.

Cell Phones
Cell Phones (Photo credit: Scallop Holden)

Others used the punishment system – poor grades equalled loss of privileges like getting a driver’s license or playing video games.

Doug’s parenting theory is that the reason parents give their kids things is so that they can take them away. We relied on that for bad behavior but never really needed to punish for bad grades —  not that they always got straight As, but we always felt they were doing their best, and if their best only got a B or even a C in some classes, we applauded the effort more than the grade. (I honestly hate the grading and testing system in our schools, but that’s an entirely different blog!)

When it came to grades specifically, compliments for good work went a long way. We hoped gushing over the As or rewarding them inspired them to get more As.

Sometimes their best motivation came from their peers. When their friends were high achievers, they wanted to be too. It also helped that they set their sights early on getting into Brigham Young University, a school with high admission standards. Their strong desire to get into BYU spurred them to do their best, and actually seemed to do more than money. (Remember, however, that our money incentive plan went the way of allowance and the lazy tooth fairy…They faded out over time.

I did a little internet research and learned there is a lot of debate on this topic. Some think financial rewards are shallow and meaningless, and that we shouldn’t reward kids for doing what they should be doing anyway. Getting good grades is what they should be doing anyway so there shouldn’t be any further motivation. Others say that monetary rewards are effective and give them yet another reason for working hard.

 

While we obviously want our children to develop their own healthy motivation, sometimes it takes more maturity on their part for them to discover their own internal, personally drive and determination.

Some parents recommended rewarding kids with dinner at their favorite restaurant or buying them the new coveted toy or item they want.

I think the best idea I read was asking kids what they really want. Ask them, “What would motivate you?”

Some kids said a weekend ski trip, a new video game, a ticket to a special event or a special item of clothing motivated them.

What do all of my loyal blog readers think?

For all you parents, what works? What doesn’t? What do my kids think? Did any of our parenting ploys work? For all the college students who can still remember what their parents did, what worked? I’d love your answers and advice.

I’ll be sure to pass it on to my neighbor!

Parenting, Personal

Enough is Enough

At every transition in my life, I get restless, thinking I should be doing more.

When the kids used to start school in the fall, I felt an urgent need to pack my life with something more meaningful than what I was doing.

It didn’t matter that I might have organized a new early morning club at the school to teach elementary students how to produce a newspaper or volunteered to be the room mom in two classrooms, taken on the social director job for our neighborhood and organized a party with a live band and a Halloween parade on top of a demanding assignment overseeing a women’s organization of hundreds of women at church.

I still needed to do more.

Saturday, when my girls flew back to college, I felt the energy and purpose in my life go with them. The house was silent and truly empty…again.

I am not mourning the loss of my children. Don’t get me wrong on that. They are exactly where they should be in their lives and I am exactly where I should be in mine.

Our houses aren’t meant to be full of children forever.

But as soon as they left, my life suddenly seemed empty, like the house.

Yes, there are blogs to write, public affairs assignments I put on hold over the holidays, beach house work that needs to be done before the high rental season begins, and the list goes on.

But, what am I doing that really matters? And is it enough?

I’d like to be able to answer with an emphatic, “Yes!” to those questions, but I confess that I go through the “Am I doing enough?” phase as often as every other woman I know. (Maybe men go through this too and just don’t talk about it. Come on, men, weigh in on this…)

When I take the time to think it through and be reasonable about it, I know I’m just fine and that my life is unfolding beautifully. But, until I do that, I let myself worry and toil awhile with all that self-doubt and insecurity that can make me so crazy.

(If there’s a person out there that doesn’t go through this kind of downward spiral once in a while or routinely, I’d like to hear from you. I want to know how you avoid it.)

Thankfully, I pull myself out of it well and never dwell in the poor-me pit for long, but I’d be lying to say I never go there.

My conclusion is that every time there is a transition in my life — like when I quit a job I loved and left the professional world, or when my kids started a new school year or I ended my master’s program, or when any major assignment ended and I was gearing up for the next one, I lost a bit of my identity.

If I’m not a mother, who am I? If I’m not a professional woman with a career label, then who? If I’m not a writer, a student, a yogi, a public affairs director or any number of titles, then who am I?

My first response is to hurry and find a label — get a job, a degree, a certificate, a new assignment, anything that the world deems as respectable so that I will then be enough.

Last night, I reread one of my favorite articles by Patricia Holland called “One Needful Thing.” She wrote it for The Ensign magazine (and LDS Church publication) back in 1987, but it is as right today as it was then. She wrote about being a busy mother and having a demanding assignment in the church’s youth program, and even though she was exhausted from running so fast, she thought she needed to run a little faster. She worried she wasn’t doing enough.

“Too many of us are struggling and suffering, too many are running faster than they have strength, expecting too much of themselves…We must have the courage to be imperfect,” she said.

She quoted one of my favorite writers, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who said, “Woman today is still searching. We are aware of our hunger and needs, but still ignorant of what will satisfy them. With our garnered free time, we are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them. With our pitchers [in hand] we attempt…to water a field [instead of] a garden. We throw ourselves indiscriminately into the committees and causes. Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands in distractions. Instead of stilling the center, the axis of the wheel, we add more centrifugal activities to our lives — which tend to throw us [yet more] off balance.”

A Gift from the Sea
A Gift from the Sea (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

I get caught in the water-a-field mindset too often and need to remember the water-a-garden one.

I read in my journal this morning about a conversation I had with a friend after Annie started college and I experienced an empty nest for the first time. I said, “Maybe I need to find a job.”

She shot back quickly, “You absolutely do not! That’s the last thing you need. You need to learn to just be.”

(This friend, Sherry Clarke, http://www.clarkecoaching.com/also is a personal coach who said that I should just “be” as an empty nester for at least a year before jumping into anything. Very wise advice.)

Now, I don’t want everyone writing to me with reassuring words about how amazing I am. I’m not looking for compliments, sympathy or even understanding here. I’m just being honest about that little voice that can get too loud in my head and pester me with the question of whether I’m doing enough.

I know the answer.

I absolutely am doing enough.

139/365 You Are Good Enough
(Photo credit: ganesha.isis)

I am enough.

And, so is every one of you reading this blog because if I know anything about my readers, I know you live full, busy and meaningful lives.

I just want to remind you, while reminding myself, that you too are enough. So in this time of big, hairy New Year’s Resolutions, bucket lists, and fresh starts, start with the premise that you are enough and build from there.

Believe me, I’m right there with you.

Family, From the News, Parenting, Relationships

Trying to Find Words of Comfort

Last night I heard on the news that a post office box has been set up to receive condolence letters for the families of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings.

I felt like I should send notes to the grieving parents. But, what could I possibly write?

What words of condolence could I share that could uplift these heartbroken, bereaved families?

On September 11, when I heard that terrorists had attacked our nation, I immediately drove to the elementary school to pick up my children.

The principal met me at the door and asked me to let them stay in school because it was the safest place for them. The school was in “lock down” mode and the principal wanted the children to stay in classes and return home on the bus as usual. Then, parents could explain the events of the day to them after they’d had time to process it themselves.

I saw the wisdom in the principal’s words and went home without my two daughters. They were in the safest place for them at that time, I kept telling myself.

Those words have haunted me for the past week because the children in Sandy Hook Elementary were thought to be in one of the safest places for them. Most children spend the bulk of their time at home or in school, and both places are supposed to be safe havens for them.

Parents worry about their children every time they walk out the door — even when they leave for school. But, for most of us, school shootings of the magnitude experienced in Newtown, Connecticut are beyond our fears because they are so utterly evil that we can’t let our worries even go to that extreme.

So when I think of those bewildered parents in Connecticut, and see them on television or read their words in the newspaper, my heart literally hurts. I know what it’s like to have your normal breathing pattern halted, and I wonder when they will breathe normally again, and when will their goals of survival stretch beyond a mere second at a time?

I want to console them but I am lost for words.

We went to the Kennedy Center Monday night to see “An Enchanted Christmas” performance by The Choral Arts Society of Washington.
As we sat in the Concert Hall listening to and singing Christmas carols, I thought of the peaceful feelings and the spirit of warmth that enveloped that beautiful roomful of strangers.
IMG_1741

Then I thought of the people in Connecticut and wished I could transport the sweet serenity that fell upon us in that Hall to Newtown, and just wrap the entire town up in a cocoon of safety and love.

Yesterday, we went to the White House and marveled over the gorgeous holiday decorations and listened to a children’s choir sing “Still, Still, Still,” one of my favorite Christmas songs – “Still, still, still, one can hear the falling snow…”
IMG_1790

As we left the White House, we noticed all the flags at half-staff, and again I wished so deeply that just one of the peaceful still moments I’ve experienced this week could float in a cloud to Connecticut and hover there for months to come dropping heavenly dews of tender mercies on the heartbroken, devastated people there who are just trying to get their bearings.

US Navy 040609-F-3050V-009 The U.S. flag atop ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“…The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance…”

Deliverance is what I want for them.

I guess if I were to send a letter to the new post office box, I’d say something like this:

“To all the families, friends and loved ones affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy:

I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. I won’t pretend to understand what you are going through, but I want you to know, I love you. I pray for you. My heart breaks just knowing of your unfathomable loss and acute sorrow.

I know the deep, unparalleled love that parents have for their children, and that just the fear of losing them is unbearable.

So, my urgent and heartfelt prayers on your behalf are that during this time of sadness and bewilderment that God will swoop you up and cradle you like a child in his arms, just like he is cradling your little ones. And, that you will feel his love, warmth, understanding, and compassion and know that his heart beats in sympathy with yours.

I know your lives have been permanently altered, but I also know there is a God who lives and loves you, a God who can and will carry you through this, a God who welcomed your babies home and healed their wounds instantly, and one who will heal yours too.

While I’m sure you feel utterly alone, there are good-hearted people all around the world kneeling in prayer and pleading with the heavens on your behalf.

I wish my words had the power to elevate your grieving souls and to assure you that while your heads hang down in sorrow now, they will rise up in joy again. You will be reunited with your children one day and your joy will be exquisite. I hope you will all faithfully live for that day.”

Sometimes our words are all we have, and yet, they are so inadequate and can seem so empty at times like this. I can only hope that when I send my words skyward that God will hear them and send these dear families the healing balm that they so desperately need.

Check out this beautiful piece by Jeff Benedict http://www.ldsliving.com/story/71249-jeff-benedict-witnessing-grief-and-compassion-in-newtown

Change, Family, Parenting

Letting Go

As a mother of two college students – one of them only two weeks away from graduating –I am continually asking myself, “What would my mom do now?”

I want to be the kind of mother she’s been.

The area that needs the most improvement lately is trying to be a better listener.

Sometimes, I am more of a fixer than a listener.

When my daughters call and tell me their concerns and problems, I instantly, naturally want to fix everything.

I get worked up in my here’s-what-we-need-to-do speech, and then I think of my mom and an inner voice yells, “Shut up Laurie! They only want you to listen, not try to make everything all better! Think of Mom.”

Annie called a couple of weeks ago to tell me that she’s going to Uganda for a service mission with HELP International.

http://help-international.org/uganda

African child

It was an awkward conversation as I felt this rising, confusing objection, and wanted to say in a scolding mom voice: “Ah… no, you are not going to Africa. You are coming home, getting a job, sleeping in your bedroom down the hall from me. You are going to sing in the shower, bake cookies, have parties, and    scatter your clothes all over the floor, and play the piano for me. …just like you’ve always done.

I stammered a bit and kept thinking of my mom, and what she would do.

Just listen.

I calmed down as the conversation went on, and I told her she had to be patient with me as I got my head around her new, exotic, and oh-so-foreign-to-me plan.

In a moment of weakness, I blurted out, “Annie, I am just not ready for you to be this grown up. I know you have an adventurous spirit and I am trying to be supportive, but I am fighting some powerful mom instincts here that make me want to fling my arms around you and keep you close to me forever. I still see you as a little girl, not as a world traveler and humanitarian!”

I reminded myself of Steve Martin in “Father of the Bride” when his daughter, also named Annie, told him she was in love and wanted to get married. He looked across the kitchen table and saw those grown up words coming out of a little girl’s mouth.

While it’s a hilarious scene, it’s also painful to realize I’m Steve Martin.

I’m not transitioning well from seeing my daughters as my little girls to seeing them as independent, adventurous women whose passions are taking them in directions that feel further and further away from me.

Cover of "Father of the Bride (15th Anniv...
Cover via Amazon

And, I know they need me to listen more than advise.

They need me to support more than protect.

Yet my adviser and protector instincts are not easily tamed.

In my conversation about Africa with Annie, I vacillated between being supportive and curious and treating her like she was 10 years old, when I would have said, “Well, you certainly are not going to Africa. Now, finish your homework so we can get you bathed and ready for bed.”

As I navigate the new waters of parenting adult children, I think of my mom constantly and wonder how she did it.

I call her often and say, “Mom, really, how did you do it?”

I’m still trying to figure it out.

I think the real answer is that she did it a day, and a conversation at a time just like I am.

I hope my daughters can understand that this “letting go” part of parenting is not easy.

help letter annie

But, of course, like me, they will only really learn it when they become parents.

Then,  I hope they’ll call me for advice and say, “Mom, how did you do it?”